READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, March 13th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, March 13th

Senate Ag Needing Ethic Paperwork on Perdue

The Senate Agriculture Committee is getting closer to scheduling a confirmation hearing for Agriculture Secretary nominee Sonny Perdue, but still needs some paperwork from the White House. The Washington Post reports needed paperwork was submitted last week, more than seven weeks after President Donald Trump nominated the former Georgia governor to the post at the Department of Agriculture. But a spokesperson for Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow, the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, says the committee still needs Perdue’s ethics paperwork and FBI background check, as of Friday. Perdue’s ethics forms are also missing from the Office of Government Ethics website, which posts the documents when they are completed. The ethics agreements identify potential conflicts of interest and how they will be resolved. Perdue has had businesses in grain trading, trucking and exports. It is unclear whether any of those interests are causing the holdup.

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Low Pathogenic Bird Flu Confirmed in Tennessee

Tennessee officials confirmed a less dangerous strain of bird flu was found in Giles County, Tennessee, which borders Lincoln County Tennessee, the site of high pathogenic avian influenza found more than a week ago. Authorities killed and buried chickens at the site in Giles County, Tennessee, “as a precaution” after a case of highly pathogenic flu in Lincoln County led to the deaths of about 73,000 chickens, according to Reuters. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture said officials did not believe birds at one premise sickened those at the other. The less dangerous low pathogenic avian influenza found in Giles County, Tennessee, is the second confirms low-pathogenic strain found in the U.S. this year, which followed a low pathogenic outbreak in Wisconsin. The high-pathogenic outbreak was the first in more than a year in the United States as other countries in Europe and Asia are dealing with multiple outbreaks. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the strain found in Tennessee is not related to the strains found currently overseas.

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Texas, Kansas Suspend Trucking Restrictions for Wildfire Relief

The Governors of Kansas and Texas suspended trucking restrictions over the weekend for trucks hauling hay and supplies to wildfire affected areas. Ranchers in the impacted areas are in need of hay and fencing supplies, along with animal care supplies for the livestock that survived the wildfires. The fires burnt more than a million acres last week in four states. Drovers Cattle Network reports some restrictions were lifted to allow efficient movement of the emergency supplies needed. Cattle losses are also well into the thousands across Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. There are many ways to help, including by contacting the Texas Department of Agriculture, the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association and the Kansas Livestock Association. Last year, during the Anderson Creek Fire in Kansas and Oklahoma, the Kansas Livestock Association received donations from 31 states and nearly every country in Kansas.

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Report Shows Equipment Manufacturers Economic Contributions

A new report shows the equipment manufacturing industry supported almost 1.3 million jobs in the United States last year. Released by the Association of Equipment Manufactures last week, the report found manufacturers added $159 billion to the Gross Domestic Product of the United States in 2016. The report also found that equipment manufacturers in the United States supported over $416 billion in sales activity, generated about $87 billion in labor income and contributed over $25 billion in local, state and federal taxes. The research also examined the equipment manufacturing industry’s impact in Canada. Equipment manufacturers in Canada supported some 149,000 jobs last year, and generated some $15 billion for the Canadian economy in 2015.

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Organic Farmers Group Growing

The Organic Farmers Association is gaining momentum, according to Politico. The group, organized by the Rodale (roh-dale) Institute, has formed a steering committee and will hold leadership elections early next year. The panel includes 12 voting seats for certified organic farmers and seven non-voting seats for organic farm organizations. The Rodale Institute says the organization has “several hundred members” that it is asking about their lobbying priorities and expects to be active in farm bill discussions. Rodale Institute CEO Jeff Moyer said the startup group gained support last year from organic watchdogs who opposed the Organic Trade Associations’ stance on GMO labeling legislation. Moyer also said many of the farmers he’s talked to are against the Agriculture Department’s organic checkoff program, but the Organic Farmers Association has not yet taken a position on the checkoff issue.

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General Mills to Commercialize Organic Perennial Wheat

General Mills and Cascadian Farm announced last week the two will work with the Land Institute to commercialize organic Kernza, a perennial grain and wild relative of annual wheat. The intermediate wheatgrass grows deep roots that show promise to increase soil health, carbon sequestration, water retention and enhance surrounding wildlife habitat, according to General Mills. The Cascadian Farm has agreed to purchase an initial amount of the perennial grain which allows The Land Institute to arrange with farmers to plant on commercial-scale fields versus the test sized plots currently being grown. Kernza is unique in that its roots grow more than twice as deep, upwards of 10 feet, and are greater in density than current annual wheat roots. A perennial, farmers who produce Kernza do not need to till and replant the crop every year, minimizing disruption to the soil.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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